That's right, Canon is going to be giving users clean HDMI in a future firmware update for the 5D Mark III, and it's not coming from the hardworking folks at Magic Lantern. Canon has innovated in some ways in the DSLR space, but they have made a clear distinction between their video and photography product lines. Lack of clean HDMI is a feature their competition already has -- namely Nikon and Sony, who both have cameras with clean HDMI -- with the Nikon D800 being the first full-frame camera out of the gate with a fully uncompressed 1080p. Obviously Canon has a plan for announcing this now, the only question is, when will you actually be able to get it?
Here is a bit from their press release about the announcement, which will also include new AF improvements:
Uncompressed HDMI Output Support
When shooting video, HDMI Output makes possible the recording of high-definition uncompressed video data (YCbCr 4:2:2, 8 bit) from the EOS 5D Mark III to an external recorder via the camera's HDMI terminal. This, in turn, facilitates the editing of video data with minimal image degradation for greater on-site workflow efficiency during motion picture and video productions. Additionally, video being captured can be displayed on an external monitor, enabling real-time, on-site monitoring of high-definition video during shooting.
Improved AF Functionality
Even when the EOS 5D Mark III is equipped with an extender and lens making possible a maximum aperture of f/8, the firmware update supports AF employing the camera's central cross-type points (currently compatible with maximum apertures up to f/5.6). Accordingly, the update will allow users to take advantage of AF when shooting distant subjects, benefitting sports and nature photographers, particularly when using telephoto lenses.
The new firmware update will be available, at no charge, in April 2013 from the Canon U.S.A. website and can be downloaded by end users or through Canon Factory Service Centers.
Yes, you're reading that right, you won't be able to get the 8-bit 4:2:2 clean HDMI firmware until April 2013. Canon must really love making people wait, or maybe they think users are planning on jumping ship if they don't feel like the company is supporting them? While telling users they will get a certain feature is usually comforting, I can't help but think that the capability to really make this work could be done right now. Magic Lantern, with its limited resources, has proven that these cameras are capable of far more features than have been initially included. Either because of compatibility concerns or concerns over keeping their product lines separate, the Mark III was not given some of these key video features that the competition has decided to include right from the start.
Still, it's good news, no question, for those who would rather not play around with third party firmware. It's not going to magically turn the camera into a C300, but having the extra color space is extremely helpful for color grading, not to mention for those who are trying to do green screen work. You might think, why buy into an external recorder when cameras like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera are including ProRes and RAW internally? If you're going to move to a video camera at some point, the C100 is the next logical step in the Canon line, but with its low 24mbps internal codec, an external recorder would be helpful. That's one way to make your gear grow with you, assuming you've got some Canon lenses and you like the image that is coming out of the Canon cameras.
So why is Canon announcing this now, when we can't get it until next year? There are a couple possibilities, but a good theory might be that they are trying to take away a little of the thunder from whatever Sony is announcing at the end of this month. It's likely going to be a new camera with 4K capabilities that will slot above the F3, and while that's worlds away from a Mark III with clean HDMI, this announcement may get some of the focus back on Canon.
What do you guys think? Are you excited by this announcement? Does this change your opinion about Canon and their support for cameras, or do you feel like this is something Canon should have included in the first place?